How a walk in a park can make you happy and healthy

How often do you go outside? By the way, walking to your car/public transportation and then to your work or a shop doesn’t count!

Apparently, on average, people from the US and Canadians spend 93% (!) of their lives indoors. To be more precise, 87% of their life time is spent in buildings and 6% in automobiles. I am pretty sure similar situation is anywhere in Western Europe as well.

Besides the obvious benefit of getting your daily vitamin D dose by being outside, it appears there are many more reasons to dedicate some of your precious free time for being outdoors every day. Below I am sharing several interesting science-based facts I found about being in nature.

 

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Urban or rural. You can (still) find some nature everywhere. Summer in Norway.
  • Nature naturally relieves stress, especially if you spend some time in a forest, various studies suggest. For those who spend their days in an office, even the view of nature out a window is related to reduced stress and higher job satisfaction.
  • Walking outdoors boosts creativity and opens up the free flow of ideas in real time and shortly after, another study claims. Tip: it is also a simple way to increase your physical activity!
  • Scientists identified a broad range of health benefits from interacting with nature, including noticeably reduced inflammation, boosted immune system, and even possible anti-cancer effects that get activated after spending time in a forest.
  • Being outdoors increases your vitality, which is so important for the general well-being. As it appears from the research, even looking at the pictures of nature can give you more energy! During one study, participants were exposed to photo’s of either nature of buildings. Results showed that only the nature scenes improved participants’ vitality. P.s. this still wouldn’t replace the ‘real thing’.
  • Interestingly, little to no contact with nature is called a ‘nature-deficit‘ among some researchers. They suggest that the increase in obesity, attention disorders, and depression in society (especially children) is partly due to the fact that people don’t spend time in nature as much as they used to.

To state the obvious, going out of your house to have a walk in a local park is good for you, which is why we should be doing it more often. Here are a couple of tips that worked for me and people I know:

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My solution for spending more time outdoors. Yorkie named Bonas
  • Get a puppy (if you can). I think this one is the easiest way to (have to) walk outside several times every day. Besides, a new family member will bring a lot of joy and good emotions to your house.
  • Do sports. Jogging  and/or doing various exercises in a park is another way to spend more time outdoors. To make it more fun, find a buddy (or a group of buddies). At the same time you can motivate each other to keep going.
  • Take a walk. And make walking part of your daily routine. Scientists found that being in nature and moving, even for as little as 5 minutes at a time improves both mood and self-esteem. Always meeting your friends in a café for catching-up? Try walking in a park. Meeting for a lunch? Make it a picnic!
  • HPIM4081
    Summer or winter. There should always be time to enjoy the beautiful nature. Sunset in Lithuania.

    Keep discovering. Wherever in the World you live, there are so many (green) surroundings everywhere. Even if you live in one of the biggest cities, I am sure you have several parks not too far from your house and some other natural places where you can escape. If you are new to the place you live in, check TripAdvisor for some tips (there is a category for nature and parks), or simply visit all the green ‘spaces’ you can find on Google Maps!

I hope I encouraged you to discover some of the parks nearby your house. As for me, I am already putting my shoes on!


Most underlined words are links to the the scientific studies used in this article. 

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